6 Free (But Really Useful) Content Measurement Tools
You might be surprised to hear this but great writing skills aren’t the key to successful content marketing. Great writing really helps but a lot of the most important work is done before you ever put pen to paper (or should I say fingers to keyboard). Yes you need a good story to tell, and the ability to do it in a way that matters to your audience, but getting your content in front of the right people is the bigger challenge. To do this well, it really comes down to strategy and optimisation.
There are heaps of great tools that will help you track your results. Even better, lots of them are free!
Here are six free (but really useful) tools to measure the effectiveness of your content strategy:
1. Hubspot Marketing Grader
If you’ve already been developing content, it’s a great idea to get a benchmark of your current performance before you start refining your strategy. Hubspot’s Marketing Grader allows you to evaluate how effective your marketing strategies are, including blogging, email marketing, social media, SEO and even mobile responsiveness. This tool is particularly useful as it goes beyond just grading your performance, offering tips on how you can improve and suggesting what your top priorities should be. For each marketing element, you’ll get a checklist that shows how you’ve performed. You might be able to highlight particular things you’ve missed, like adding social sharing buttons to your blog, or identify room for improvement, like increasing the number of inbound links to your site.
Before you start producing content, adopt this mantra: it’s not all about you. Just as the content you’re creating should be customer-centric, your measurement strategy starts with finding out what your audience is interested in and how other people in your industry are targeting them. BuzzSumo is a great tool that allows you to search keywords and topics to see which websites and articles are performing well. (Ed’s note: The subscription version of this tool is much richer but you’ll still benefit from using the free one.) You can look at the Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Google+ or Pinterest shares for each piece of content, as well as the number of backlinks. Sort by the last 24 hours to see trending hot topics or over the past year to see which content has staying power. It’s also a great place to source inspiration for your own content. Have a look at the articles generating interest and think about how you could put your own spin on them. You’ll also build a picture of the most successful formats and styles used by others targeting the same audience groups.
3. Google Analytics
This is a crucial tool for any business with an online presence. Add unique tracking codes to each of your webpages and generate behaviour data for every site visitor. Google Analytics shows information your content management system and other monitoring tools might not measure, so it’s great to use in conjunction with your existing applications. For example, you’ll be able to identify which content on your website or blog isn’t capturing people’s attention, by measuring bounce rates and how long customers spend on every page. It also shows you the number of pages your customers are looking at each time they’re on your site, and which ones are the best at getting people to click through to a new page. This shows you where you’re doing a good job at making customers want to learn more about you, moving them further down the funnel. These insights help to develop a full picture of the customer journey with your brand and how it could be improved.
Distribution is a crucial part of any content marketing strategy. Even the most amazing blog post isn’t valuable if nobody sees it. Buffer makes it easy to set up a schedule for your social posts, as well as providing visibility into your results. It also provides analytics so you can see your most popular posts across different platforms including Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook and Google+. One of its most helpful features is the ‘potentials’. For each social post, Buffer will show you how many people could have seen it. This is really useful, as it shows you how well you’re engaging your online audience, rather than looking at your total number of followers. The ‘Optimal Timing Tool’ also lets you create a schedule based on the times that your own audience is most engaged so you can continue to refine your scheduling strategy.
When you’re using so many different tools, it can be hard to see a complete picture of how all your metrics are working together. Cyfe is an awesome tool that lets you combine all of your data sources in one marketing dashboard, with a huge selection of integrations. For example, maybe you’re blogging with WordPress and distributing these posts via email, using a program like MailChimp. Integrating these tools with your social media platforms produces a complete overview of your blogging strategy. It’s important to factor in how much your content production costs so Cyfe can be integrated with Salesforce or Xero to include employee costs and campaign spend. By monitoring everything in a single dashboard, you’ll save the time you spend constantly switching between tabs and trying to collate data in spreadsheets. If you have different people in your business monitoring social media, content, marketing and finance, this is a great way of making sure they’re all using the same data.
The final piece of the measurement puzzle is to conduct regular audits of all your content. This is usually a fairly painful process that involves compiling data into spreadsheets and using pivot tables or charts to determine results. The Kapost Auditor tool does the legwork for you by crawling across your site to pull together a complete list of your content. Everything is tagged according to key benchmarks like how buyer-centric or product-focused it is and whether it aligns with your marketing personas and buying stages. Once you’ve done a full audit, you can keep the information on file in Kapost to compare it to your next audit and track improvements and fluctuations.
Whether you’re just getting started with measuring your content effectiveness, or you’re already using a bunch of analytics tools, there’s sure to be something on this list that will help to refine your strategy. The important thing is that you’re focused on tracking your success and constantly optimising your content. By incorporating measurement into every step of your content strategy, you’re guaranteed to see a continuous uplift in your results.